The kaleidoscope is a toy, an optical device consisting of angled mirrors that reflect images of bits of coloured glass in a symmetrical geometric design through a viewer. As the section containing the loose fragments is rotated, the image changes, allowing us to view a seemingly endless variety of patterns. Invented in 1816, the kaleidoscope can provide hours of entertainment and is a visual reminder that beauty can come from brokenness and that variety is a vital aspect of life.
Life can feel rather like a kaleidoscope, shaking us more than we would prefer. After each shaking, life looks different to before. The view changes; we see things differently.
We all start life believing we are the centre of the world. The baby’s plaintive cries are designed to ensure its needs are met. The toddler tantrums because it must learn consideration for others and how to deal with that awful word, ‘No’. It takes time and training to be shifted from this egocentric view of life.
At some point (if we are fortunate), life shakes us so that we see God as the centre of the universe, not ourselves. Our lives are realigned to meet reality rather than going along with the devilish fiction that we are at the centre of evverything.
Eugene Peterson writes, “Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God.” (“Leap Over A Wall”) This is why personal and corporate worship of God are so important. Left to ourselves, we easily slip back into childish thinking (“our self-importancec is so insidiously relentless.“) We have to learn to “deliberately interrupt ourseles regularly”, which is why a daily quiet time with God and regular attendance at church services can be vital ingredients to living well. We have to learn to re-focus, to give God our undivided attention.
This is where gathering together as believers is so useful. It gives us the time and space to focus on God, to declare who God is, to listen to what God says, to put God at the centre. Only when He has His rightful place will the kaleidoscopic picture of life fall into place and make sense. There is a meaning, a purpose, a picture to life, but this cannot be seen or understood apart from God.